Facebook is screwing up a potentially great ad model

By Steve Outing

I’ve said here that I’m a (qualified) fan of the “social ads” concept that Facebook is implementing. But I’m only a fan as far as the concept goes; Facebook’s implementation still has major problems.

Example: In my Facebook News Feed this afternoon was this social ad, which appeared because someone on my friends list allowed it to be published:

Now that sucks. It’s a stupid way to advertise, because it gives the appearance that David Henderson is spamming my Facebook account with an ad from Blockbuster Video — which is not what he intended, I’m sure.

But if this was done right, it could be a great and cool form of advertising. If Dave had just rented the movie Rent — or had just rated it 4 stars on Blockbuster.com — then I’d be fine with receiving that information in my News Feed. If Dave was (because he agreed to) sending all his Facebook friends a $1 off coupon for Blockbuster, that would be fine. But the ad above is stupid and counterproductive on Blockbuster’s part.

The best way to handle this ad would be to 1) have the News Feed ad above be something like “David Henderson gave Rent 4 stars on Blockbuster.com” (relevant personal information about a Facebook friend’s activities, approved for publication by him in an opt-in manner), and 2) use the ad banner space in the left side of the Facebook News Feed page for a more conventional ad (like “One month free trial…”).

The social ad that showed up in my News Feed is dumb. If Facebook pumps that kind of crap onto user News Feed pages, the Beacon and Social Ad programs will fail.

Done right, they will represent a major positive innovation in online advertising.

Author: Steve Outing Steve Outing is a Boulder, Colorado-based media futurist, digital-news innovator, consultant, journalist, and educator. ... Need assistance with media-company future strategy? Get in touch with Steve!